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SportMalta intervenes over Marsa SC plans to replace clay court with Padel facility

SportMalta has opened talks with Marsa Sports Club over the latter’s plans to remove one of its clay courts and replace it with a Padel facility.

The Marsa SC Tennis Section (MSC) announced during last month’s Annual General Meeting that it had plans in place to introduce the sport of Padel at its club.

However, the proposal from the MSC administration received a lot of objections from its members who have since written letters of protest and are also considering boycotting the club’s competitions and activities.

MSC’s decision to implement this plan is said to have been taken without consultation with its club members.

SportMalta has now intervened on the matter as they are against losing one of only two claycourts present on the island and are currently holding talks with the MSC administration to find a solution.

Having a clay court facility in Malta is crucial for the development of the sport of tennis here as it is imperative for both young and established players to train on this unique surface so they are ready for competition in international events such as the Billie Jean Cup, the Davis Cup and the Small Nations Games.

After a considerable number of objections were sent to MSC, an email was sent to the tennis section members after the club’s AGM, the MSC had said that one of the main reasons why it has decided to remove one of its clay courts is that it was putting a huge financial strain on the club through its yearly maintenance which they said amounted to over €10,000.

“Before deciding to place the Padel courts on court 12, we considered a number of areas around all the club, but none were deemed suitable,” Marsa SC said in its email.

“The reality is that the upkeep of the two clay courts results in a very negative yearly figure, accounts wise. The money generated during the 5 years prior to renting them to the Asciak Academy, was negligible (around €750 in total). During this time the section was spending over €10,000 per year for maintenance. This was money that surely could have been better spent.”

However, when contacted by the Times of Malta, Albert Bonello, the Marsa SC secretary, said that maintenance costs were not the main reason behind the club’s decision to invest in a Padel court, but because they were keen to provide another sport to their members for them to practice.

“The main reason why we want to have a Padel court at Marsa SC has nothing to do with commercial viability or maintenance costs,” Bonello said.

“Our goal is to provide our members with the opportunity to practice a highly-popular sport at our club at a very reasonable price. We are always looking to attract more members to our club and having a Padel court will surely help us.

“The Marsa SC is not a commercial entity, we are a social club and we want to provide our members the chance to practice Padel for a very reasonable fee.”

Bonello confirmed that talks are ongoing with SportMalta and although he said it was not ethical to provide any details of what is being proposed, he said that many options are being considered and he didn’t exclude that the two clay courts will be preserved and that the Padel court will be built in a different area at MSC.

On his part, Luciano Busuttil, the chairman of SportMalta, has also confirmed that talks between the two parties are ongoing and the government entity is determined to find a good solution for both the club and the sport of tennis in Malta.

“The Marsa Sport Club owns the only two clay courts that exist in Malta,” Dr Busuttil told the Times of Malta.

“We recognise the fact that the club is carrying a huge expense to maintain these two courts and we feel that it’s not fair that the club carries such burden alone. As SportMalta, we are looking to find a solution so that the club will receive support to take care of these courts throughout the year as we don’t want to lose these courts.”

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